West Brom-Newcastle United Preview
Time will tell if failing to snag Saido Berahino from West Bromwich Albion on deadline day was the best £21.2 million Newcastle United never spent.
The Baggies reportedly turned down that offer from Saturday's opponents for the unsettled striker, and now the player Newcastle hoped could save their season might end up sinking it.
Berahino is equally likely to be kicking his heels on the bench at St James' having not started a Premier League game since October.
While Berahino seemingly has his heart set on a summer move to Tottenham Hotspur, Baggies owner Jeremy Peace and boss Tony Pulis appear equally determined to hold onto the player through the remaining two years of his contract.
Pulis still believes the want-away striker can be the solution to his side's goal-scoring woes after West Brom (7-8-9) required a late Jose Rondon goal to salvage a 1-1 draw with Swansea City midweek.
"We've lost one game in nine but the problem is we haven't been scoring enough goals to win games," Pulis told the official club website.
"It is a problem but hopefully with Saido back in now or getting back into the team - it will take all this month to get him fit and up to the level he was last year - if we can do that and have him for the last couple months then we'll be delighted."
The Magpies (5-6-13) did plenty of business in the recently closed January window, acquiring Henri Saivet, Jonjo Shelvey, Andros Townsend and Seydou Doumbia. But Wednesday's 3-0 thumping at the hands of Everton kept Newcastle in the bottom three, in 18th position on 21 points, two back of Norwich City.
With Shelvey and Saivet settling in, Townsend made his first appearance at Everton. While Doumbia has yet to make his debut, Newcastle need all their new boys to make an early impact.
Club captain Fabricio Coloccini pulled no punches in his assessment of the side's performance at Goodison Park.
"In the first half we were asleep, we didn't start well and went behind," he told the club website.
"We were better in the second half but as we pushed very high, trying everything we could to look for an equaliser. It meant they could always hit us on the counter-attack, and that happened with the two penalties."
Beleaguered Magpies boss Steve McLaren has presided over a run of just one win in nine games (1-2-6) across all competitions. He's hoping to see a response to the recent adversity in front of a partisan home crowd Saturday.
"At West Brom we will have 52,000 cheering us on and we will have to show a reaction," he told the club website. "We have shown we can react before. Fans want to see fight and we need to show it on Saturday."
McLaren is still dealing with a lengthy injury list - nine players are rated doubtful or excluded entirely - including Tim Krul (knee), Gabriel Obertan, Vurnon Anita and Paul Dummett (all hamstring).
The Baggies have doubts over Jonny Evans, who picked up a knock in the draw with Swansea and will be missing James Morrison (hamstring), Callum McManaman (ankle) and Chris Brunt (calf).
Darren Fletcher's strike in the 78th minute was the only score as West Brom beat Newcastle 1-0 at The Hawthorns in late December.
West Brom has won just one of nine Premier League visits to St James' Park, a 3-2 victory in December 2011. Paul Scharner scored the game's winning goal five minutes from time.